Street squash raises grades and spirits at Harlem school (VIDEO)

african kings

From NBC Nightly News: Wearing athletic gear and her clear protective glasses, 19-year-old Rakey Drammeh groaned as she stepped onto the squash court.

“Ah! I feel like I haven’t played in so long,” Drammeh shouted. She picked up a racquet, swinging her arms back and forth, waiting for her opponent to arrive.

Six years ago, Drammeh had never heard of squash.

WATCH NBC NIGHTLY NEWS COVERAGE OF THE ‘STREET SQUASH’ PROGRAM:
[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”47160420″ id=”msnbc7e1c74″]

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

She learned about the sport in seventh grade while sitting in an auditorium at the Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem, listening to the Street Squash staff explain their after school program.

“I was with my dad and he was like, ‘You know, you should do something while you’re here…’ and I was like, ‘What is squash? What are you getting me into?’” said Drammeh.

Within a few weeks Drammeh joined the program, where she received her first racquet, and a pair of protective glasses.

Now a sophomore environmental studies major at Bates College in Maine, Drammeh came back for a visit to play with some of the alums who benefited from the program in the same way she did.

“I kept going and going and I really got into the sport,” said Drammeh. “I got a lot better and I met so many friends… I thought I can do this, this is fun.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.